Letters - 22 April 2022

From Meeting for Worship to Yearly Meeting programme

Meeting for Worship

I found Christine Habgood-Coote’s article on Zoom communication (8 April) quite challenging. On-screen connection has opened us to many opportunities we did not know existed and has also given us the chance to think seriously about closing Meeting houses. Yet many people find Zoom daunting or even alienating. There was a third way, which was to ‘Meet’ for Worship in our own homes at the same time, each Sunday morning. Like Christine, I am concerned that we do not feel divided over this. We need to see our differences as enriching alternatives.

The biggest challenge of the article is the suggestion that Margaret Fell would have embraced modern technology, as a way to offer Quakerism to more people. Now we are out of lockdown, I too am asking: how can we use what we have learnt in order to do this? We can see that Zoom and social media are great for many things. However, I am not clear how this can work well for worship because for me the Quaker faith is rooted in shared direct experience of the presence in the midst.

Meeting for Worship is a public event and I was heartened to read of Friends who met outdoors in parks. Last year we worshipped by our peace tree. Some people in our Meeting have been on silent walks together along the river and through the town. Could we have more public Meetings? At a recent memorial Meeting, one person said afterwards how much he had appreciated the stillness that he found between the numerous ministries. Around me, I see a deep longing for the peace that inner stillness brings when we meet one another. Recently I visited a local church, which was open for people to pray for peace in Ukraine. I sat with two members of the congregation for about ten minutes in respectful stillness and we prayed silently together. I think it worked because we were gathered for a common specific purpose, in a beautiful setting almost spontaneously. Maybe living life adventurously means offering stillness woven into other forms of worship in different settings.

Taking it to people where they are.

Ruth Tod

I attend a weekly online worship hosted by Woodbrooke where I am in the midst of kind, thoughtful Friends who make everyone welcome. There is a fascinating mix of attendees; some are erudite, some quiet, some chatty but we are all different and the worship is truly wonderful. I fall into the group of attendees who can’t physically attend Local Meeting houses because of safeguarding or mobility issues, so for me Zoom Meetings are superb and my only gateway to friends and Quaker life.

The article last week (8 April) by Christine Habgood-Coote argues that we should embrace new technology such as Zoom, but I don’t quite get her point because I have no experience of the ‘old way’. I just know online Meetings, and courses, and I am more than happy with the way things are now.

I am absolutely committed to Quakerism and have a long-term calling to help. I sincerely wish to become involved and be part of the spiritual journey.

How do I become a member if I am only able to attend online worships? Which path should I follow and specifically, who should I address my application letter to?

Bill Martin

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